The Goethe-Institut’s Alumni Denkfabrik for Culture, Education and Development is a unique project in Germany, which is taking new pathways in international development cooperation.

In the past, culture and education have often been given little consideration. Yet, increasingly the realization is spreading that viable future prospects for a country cannot be developed solely by economists and development experts. The Alumni Denkfabrik, which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, supports this change in awareness. For the first time, it is inviting all alumni who have studied or done research in Germany to discuss the role of culture and education in social transformation processes, live and online. The results of this discussion will then be incorporated in project proposals for cultural, educational and funding programmes of the Goethe-Institut and its partners.


Who can participate?

In 2011 alone, more than 230,000 people learned German at the Goethe-Institut or were involved in Goethe projects. When we add the scholarship holders of other institutions and foundations, these alumni are a powerful, until now hardly used resource in international cooperation.

The aim of the Denkfabrik (think tank) is to stimulate these alumni together with experts from a variety of disciplines to form regional and international networks. For the participants, this opens up new perspectives in their home countries, while at the same time intensifying their bonds with the Federal Republic of Germany. Reciprocally, German institutions can benefit from the pool of German-speaking specialists this creates, and thereby establish ties beyond official politics.


How does the Denkfabrik work?

Germany alumni join together with experts from culture, education and academics in regional working groups. Over a process of a number of months, these groups discuss future perspectives for their countries.

The discussions begin with the question of what role culture and education play – and what role they should play – in the respective country.

In the next step, regional groups meet at national conferences. Lastly, they present their results in live presentations on the web and then discuss these with all interested alumni in a live chat session.




What countries are participating?

The project teams come from twelve threshold countries of development cooperation: Belarus, Bolivia, Georgia, Indonesia, Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, South Africa, Lebanon, Thailand and Uzbekistan.

Initial project blueprints have already been drawn up. The Alumni Denkfabrik Kenya, for example, is dealing with the question of how the oral culture of East Africa influences the new social networks on the Internet. The Georgian working group wants to network domestic artists at home and abroad with German artists and cultural institutions to strengthen their artistic confidence and teach them skills in exhibition organization and funding.


Who are the partners?

The Goethe-Institut’s project partners are the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst and the cooperation partners from the countries of development cooperation: local NGOs, universities, educational institutions and think tanks.


How is the Alumni Denkfabrik coordinated?

The control centre of the Denkfabrik is the Alumniportal Germany, a communications and contact platform for people all over the world who studied, did research, were trained or completed a language course in Germany. As on other social media portals, registered users may form interest groups and discussion forums. New projects are presented and alumni can search for targeted work opportunities. There are also advanced training programmes. In so-called “webinars,” online seminars, a variety of advanced training opportunities are offered.
Especially for those interested in the Denkfabrik, in a first webinar block a communications expert will explain how working groups are facilitated and discussion processes are coordinated. The results of the working groups will be presented online in a second block starting November. A final conference of the groups is also planned in Germany.


Webinar programme of the Alumni-Denkfabrik.




Florian Thalhofer und Dorothee Kreling während einer Webinarsession